Authors: Dimithri Devinda Jayagoda & Darshi Manohari Gamage
Abstract: Undoubtedly, mangroves and associated wildlife show signs of degradation in almost every region of the world. Historical data proves that in 10 regions, there has been a continuous mangrove loss between the periods 1980 to 2005. The Philippines have lost its mangrove cover quite severely. In 1920, the country had 500,000 hectares of mangrove cover that has reduced to 117,000 by the year 1995. The heavy loss of mangrove forest in the world is due largely to human activities. One project is helping to reverse the world trend. This example is from the City of Puerto Princesa, on Palawan Island, Philippines, also known as the “Love Affair with Nature” and was implemented and continued by the true efforts of the lord mayor, Edward Hagedorn. This project has been continuing annually since 2003 and 58.5 hectares have been enriched or rehabilitated in the Barangays San Jose and San Manuel areas of Puerto Princesa. This has provided as nursery grounds for fish, prawns and crabs and as supported matter, which are valuable sources of food for crustaceans and fishes. This project is very attractive with its mass wedding ceremony and celebrations. Averagely about 150 couples get married with the support of mayor under the one and only condition of planting a mangrove tree together.
A unique methodology used in this study and photography has used to document many of the qualitative findings. Also the authors have originally developed a framework for performances for “Love Affair with Nature” Mangrove Plantation Project and which can be adopted in various other islands in the Philippines and rest of the world. Recommendations are given to further improve the mangrove plantation project and to also stabilize and increase community participation. The qualitative data gathered from the local high-ranking officials and academia in Puerto Princesa proves that the mangrove is no longer being harvested and is continuously regaining through both the natural and planting processes of reforestation and afforestation. Findings from the interviews with local community prove that everybody in the city is aware about the importance of mangroves and that they are participating in the planting of and protecting the mangroves planted area in every possible manner. These qualitative findings are proved by available quantitative national statistics and which clearly shows the mangrove forest cover and the upland forest cover are increasing in Puerto Princesa during last two decades.
Keywords: Community Participation, Environmental Security, Leadership, Mangroves, Sustainability